The newest commander of the Hill Air Force Base’s 388th Fighter Wing said his new appointment is "the honor of my life," at a change of command ceremony Thursday.

“I promise to do my best and also to take care of you and your families,” Col. Michael L. Gette told airmen during the ceremony at Hill Air Force Base. “It will be the honor of my life serving with you and for you over the next two years.”

Gette is taking the place of Col. Craig R. Andrle, who has served as commander for the past two years since June 2021. Gette previously served as vice commander under Andrle’s direction. Andrle retires Friday after a 23-year career.

The ceremony was made personal by Gette’s and Andrle’s remarks, in which they both expressed gratitude for, and humor toward the servicemen they have worked with, their families, God and the northern Utah community.

“From a farm kid from Iowa, to standing up here, finishing command of the world’s most elite fighter wing … I didn't get here on my own,” Andrle said.

To the wing, he added, “You have answered your nation's call. And you've done this while taking care of each other and building high performing teams. … You serve a purpose larger than yourself. … You are what enables us to enjoy the freedoms that we have.”

After having already served as vice commander the past two years, Gette expressed gratitude to his airmen and anticipation at what they will be able to accomplish in the future under his leadership.

Air Force personnel salute as Col. Michael L. Gette assumes command of the 388th Fighter Wing and the base’s F-35A Lightning II flying unit during a change of command ceremony at Hill Air Force Base on Thursday, June 22, 2023. | USAF

“We have a really, really good thing going here, and I’m just really excited to keep that going over the next few years, and then see how we can get even better,” Gette said.

The change of command ceremony also involved symbolic gestures, including the 388th formation delivering a final salute to Andrle and a first salute to Gette as its new commander. Maj. Gen. Michael G. Koscheski, commander of the 15th Air Force, also presided over a traditional passing of the 388th Fighter Wing unit flag from Andrle to Gette.

Kocheski honored Andrle’s contributions as commander, including his leadership in defending against Russia and China.

“He inspired the warrior ethos of bravery and selfless service,” Kocheski said. “Col. Andrle valued every airman as part of the team and ensured they had the necessary training to fly, fight and win. During these times of great change, he created an environment of trust to bring out the best in our brilliant and innovative airmen.”

Gette, who joined the Air Force 24 years ago in 1999, said he is grateful to the northern Utah community for supporting its efforts. He said he's seen Hill Air Force Base advance in “leaps and bounds” as the 388th Fighter Wing has become among the world's leading experts in aircraft technology.

“This is the best country on the planet, and serving our country is an honor every day,” Gette said. “I love being part of defending it, and what we all do together in serving our country is vitally important.”

Col. Michael L. Gette assumes command of the 388th Fighter Wing and the base’s F-35A Lightning II flying unit during a change of command ceremony at Hill Air Force Base on Thursday, June 22, 2023. | USAF